Archive for January 2012

Orthodox Ecclesiastical Heraldry

Back in July of 2006, in the journal of the American College of Heraldry “The Armiger’s News”, the late Dr. David Pittman Johnson wrote a very good article trying to codify the system of ecclesiastial heraldry of the (Eastern) Orthodox Church.

As opposed to the Roman Catholic Church that has many established rules regarding its heraldry, the Orthodox Communion does not, mainly due to its decentralized structure.

Among the difficulties of this attempt is the fact that (1) heraldry is not very common in the East and in particular among the Orthodox clergy (at any level) and (2) each Orthodox Church is independent of each other and has its own particular rules and traditions within its hierarchy.

A good introduction on the organization Orthodox Church can be found, where else, on Wikipedia:

I won’t reproduce the text here but will urge anyone with an interest in ecclesiastical heraldry and particularly Orthodox heraldry to read this very well written article. 

At this point, I want to make a note to say that the rules presented not only may apply to the Orthodox Communion but also those classified as “Eastern” or “Greek” Catholic.

I feel it necessary to say that what Dr. Johnson describes are not the rules of heraldry within the Orthodox Communion but rather a combination of observations and suggestions. Until such time as there are rules established by the Head of a particular Orthodox Church, every member of the clergy is pretty much free to do as he pleases. It is though recommended to try to create some standards and Dr. Johnson has provided us with an excellent foundation to do so.

The arms at the top of this post are those of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich, head of the Board for Heraldic & Genealogical Studies at the Center for Research of Orthodox Monarchy (CROM-BHGS). These arms were emblazoned by the talented new heraldic artist Terry Sarros (who is also an associate and artist of the CROM-BHGS) following the basic principle of the rules described in the cited article but with a variation more appropriate for Serbia.

 It should be noted that the CROM-BHGS, under the leadership of the Rev. Fr. Deacon, has done much excellent work in the creation and promotion of heraldry within the Orthodox ecclesiastical community worldwide. A small sample of the work this group has done can be seen in their online gallery of ecclesiastical heraldry at this link:

The article in question can be found at this link:
and reprinted at the CROM-BHGS:


Note: The image above was used with the approval of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich and the artist Mr. Terry Sarros.
Note: I too am an associate of the CROM-BHGS.

McDuck Coat of Arms

A post on the forum of the American Heraldry Society prompted me to look for the arms of Scrooge McDuck (the cartoon character created by Carl Barks and made famous by the Walt Disney Company).

Having been a fan of the particular grumpy (and rich) Duck, I was very much familiar with his story and personality but it never occurred to me that he might be armigerous. In retrospect, it makes sense that he is.

After a search online, I came across a fascinating website dedicated to the (fictional) Clan McDuck and maintained by the Norwegian Sigvald Grøsfjeld jr.. There, I found an entire write-up on the arms of McDuck, different variations and the story behind them. What I found to be most interesting were the quotes from the artists that created the arms for the comic books expressing their thoughts and reasoning for picking the charges and tinctures that they did.

Honestly, the arms aren’t the prettiest in the world and I’m not crazy about the tincture selection as there isn’t enough contrast between the tawny field and the gules of the bend and canton.

However, they are the arms of McDuck, one of the most ancient Scottish clans and I should respect that!

The website is particularly entertaining and a real treat for all the fans of the feathered miser, who also happens to be the “Richest Duck in the World”.

The link to the heraldry page is:

The link to the main Clan McDuck site is:


Note: All images in this post are copyright of the Walt Disney Company.

The Heraldic & Genealogical Society of Greece

After a long time, the oldest and most important organization dealing with heraldic and genealogical studies in Greece now has a website.

The Heraldic & Genealogical Society of Greece (Εραλδική & Γενεαλογική Εταιρεία Ελλάδος) was founded in 1975 with the explicit objective to  organize the research of these topics in the Hellenic region. The Society has set the high standards in Greek genealogical and heraldic research for particular area concerned.

Throughout its history, the Society has counted among its members and its Board of Directors some of the top Greek researchers, veritable celebrities in their field.

The library of the Society is truly enviable as it contains some of the most important texts ever published on the histories of Greek families or the heraldic research of particular regions. Among its collection one also finds all the volumes of the Society’s journal that have been issued since the very first one in 1979.

For anyone that is of Greek ancestry or interested in the family histories of the region, many of which go back to the height of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

The link to the Society’s website is:
(the site is entirely in Greek)


Note: The Heraldic & Genealogical Society of Greece should not be confused with the  Greek Heraldry Society based in London (founded in 2009) and its good work.


Signet rings

From time to time my desire to have a signet ring resurfaces and I start going around the Internet looking at those borne by others and samples on display by various artists & craftsmen.

I started writing this post almost six months ago and a post I recently read on Fredrik Brodin’s Armorial Blog on the same topic made me realize that he did a better job than I.  I would urge anyone to read Fredrik’s article however, I felt I could contribute a little to augment what’s already there.

I wanted to go over the regional traditions:

In the British Isles:

  • Favor the use of the crest, crest and motto, or badge.
  • Prefer the use of solid gold signet rings.
  • Wear the ring on the left pinky finger.

In France:

  • Use the shield, with coronets of ranks when appropriate.
  • Use of solid gold signet rings is most common, though the use of semi precious stones is also found.
  • Wear the ring on the left ring finger.

In Germanic Countries:

  • Prefer to depict the entire armorial achievement. However, it is not uncommon where shield and coronet of rank, if appropriate have been used.
  • Prefer the use of a gold ring set with an engraved semi-precious or precious stone.
  • Wear the ring on the left ring finger.

In Scandinavian countries:

  • Use the shield and coronet (if applicable) or crest.
  • Prefer the use of a gold ring.
  • Wear the ring on the left pinky though it is also commonly found on the right hand ring finger.

In Greece & other South East European countries:

  • Prefer either solid gold or gold with a semi-precious stone.
  • Wear the ring on the right pinky.

 In the Iberian Peninsula:

  • Use the shield and coronet of rank (if applicable).
  • Prefer either solid gold or gold with a semi-precious stone.
  • Wear the ring on the left pinky.

In the Americas:

  • Follow the tradition of the country that originally found the colony (i.e. Britain for the US & Canda, Spain for most of the rest, Portugal for Brazil, etc.) or the tradition of their own country of origin

Naturally, a modern day armiger can start his or her own tradition and wear the ring wherever is most comfortable.



New website for the New Zealand Heraldry Society

A friend of the blog and New Zealander, Michael Grace, informed me that the New Zealand Heraldry Society has published its new website. 

Though still new, it has plenty of interesting information and I look forward to seeing it grow and share with the world the heraldic treasures of New Zealand.

The badge above is the newly adopted badge of the Heraldry Society that shows its link to the Heraldry Society of England but also makes clear its independence.

The link to the new website is: